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Substance Abuse and Addiction Among Food Services Workers

Many people make certain assumptions about food service workers–including that this group abuses drugs and alcohol more than other groups. Thanks to popular TV shows and movies about professional chefs, many people imagine that all chefs and others working in a kitchen regularly drink or do drugs at work. But is this stereotype fair? 

In truth, the vast majority of food service workers do not abuse drugs and alcohol at work. In fact, a recent survey showed only 1 in 10 food service workers reported using drugs while on the clock, and about 5% said they regularly drink alcohol while working.

But food service workers account for a fair share of the American workforce. About 5 million people are employed in kitchens, cafeterias, and restaurants across the country. So although a small percentage of food service workers report using substances at work, the actual number of people may be significant.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex condition, and it’s important to understand substance abuse in food service workers to provide more access to comprehensive treatment. If you or someone you love are concerned about your substance use and want help to stop, reach out to the caring staff at the Mandala Healing Center now. Our holistic approach to substance abuse treatment can give you the support, skills, and care you need to recover and thrive. 

Substance Abuse in Food Service Workers: Understanding the Issue

Food service workers often work in fast-paced environments. They may regularly need to work long, irregular hours late into the night or early morning hours. People working in a kitchen may deal with aches and pains from repetitive work, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and chronic stress.

Physical and emotional discomfort can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope. People often look to any means necessary to cope with the stress or pain that overwhelms them–including drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol is often easily accessible to people in the food service industry. They may drink while working to “get through” a busy, stressful shift or take the edge off their physical discomfort. Research suggests that over half of food service workers who drink on the job get their alcohol from their restaurant’s bar. Beer is the most common alcoholic beverage consumed at work, followed by straight liquor and mixed cocktails. 

Marijuana is the most commonly-abused illicit drug among food service workers, followed by opiates and cocaine. Regularly using intoxicating substances, including these and other drugs, can lead to addiction without intervention. 

Problems Identifying Substance Abuse in the Restaurant Industry

It can be challenging to identify substance abuse and addiction in general. It can be more difficult to identify these issues in populations where it is considered “normal.”

While the numbers may not suggest rampant substance abuse in food service workers, there is the stereotype that restaurant workers use drugs and alcohol regularly while working. This normalization of substance abuse can make it less likely for people to recognize that they need help–or for others to express concern about their substance use. 

People working in kitchens may face different pressures than people in other lines of work, including:

  • Irregular hours
  • Frequent heavy lifting
  • Repetitive work
  • Uncertain work
  • Stressful work environments
  • Low pay
  • Lack of sleep
  • Unrealistic pressure to achieve perfection

These factors can lead to aches, pain, chronic stress, and other issues that are unique to people in this line of work. The combination of these factors and an acceptance of substance abuse as “normal” can lead to untreated substance use. Food service workers may have little knowledge of available support or resources. 

But untreated substance abuse can threaten your safety and long-term well-being. If you live with substance abuse or addiction, you must get treatment to avoid the potentially life-threatening consequences of these conditions. 

Do I Need Treatment for Substance Abuse or Addiction?

Substance abuse and addiction can cause changes in a person’s mood, behaviors, appearance, and more. Recognizing the signs of substance abuse and addiction is crucial to getting the help you need to overcome these conditions.

Some signs of substance abuse and addiction include:

  • Needing to use more of the substance to get the same effects
  • Craving drugs or alcohol
  • Spending a lot of time and energy getting, using, and recovering from using the substance
  • Facing legal, social, or financial trouble because of your substance use
  • Wanting to stop but feeling like you can’t control your substance use
  • Isolating or spending time only with others who use drugs and alcohol
  • Neglecting hobbies and relationships to use drugs and alcohol
  • Failing to take care of your responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop using the substance 

These signs may indicate that you are developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol that requires professional treatment to overcome. If you need help to regain control over your substance use, get treatment as quickly as possible. 

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love need substance abuse treatment or want to learn more about substance abuse and addiction in the restaurant industry, contact the Mandala Healing Center specialists to learn about your treatment options.

Our holistic, caring approach to addiction treatment can give you the support you need to recover and move forward in your life. Don’t wait another day for the help you deserve. Reach out today.